Hormone fluctuations are common during specific times during a woman’s life. For example, during the week leading up to menstruation, women may experience mild depression, anxiety, irritability and/or mood swings. Each time your hormones do a little dance, your brain chemistry has to compensate. When the change is small, that compensation occurs quickly, and you hardly notice any symptoms. However, during the transition between perimenopause to menopause, hormones make significant fluctuations and each swing can change the brain chemistry that controls emotions and moods.
“The constant change of hormone levels during this time can have a troubling effect on emotions, “reports the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
While there are a few women who transition into menopause without any problems with mood, a significant number may experience a broad and varied range of new and/or unexpected moods and behaviors. Problems may include, but are not limited to, depressed mood, anxiety, stress, decreased sense of well-being, sadness, irritability and tearfulness. It is important for all women in transition to know that a significant number will experience clinical depression either as a recurrence of previous depression, or for the first time in their lives.
Mild menopausal symptoms may be managed through lifestyle changes; such as finding ways to relax and, of great importance is finding ways to reduce stress. Complementary and alternative therapies such as exercise, a healthy diet, yoga, breathing exercises and adequate sleep can have a positive effect on mood swings and other menopausal symptoms.
If emotions and symptoms are persistent and interfere with your life or relationships, become severe or include suicidal or self-harming thoughts, you should seek help immediately. If you are depressed and/or anxious, cognitive therapy and interpersonal therapy (types of therapy based on talking) may be able to help relieve your symptoms. For moderate to severe depression or anxiety, medication may help. Seventy to ninety percent of those who receive pharmacological and psycho-social treatment have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life.
If you would like to learn more about emotional changes during menopause and how to cope, join us for the next Red Hot Mamas support group. I will be hosting the Red Hot Mamas program, “Emotional Changes During Menopause: Depression, Anxiety and Irritability,” on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at Portneuf Medical Center. The free seminar will be held in the Pebble Creek Auditorium. Doors open at 6pm and the presentation will begin at 6:30. There will be a question and answer session following the presentation.
If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety, depression, or memory loss, speak to your doctor. It is important to know that you are not alone and that help and treatments are available. Most depressed patients witness dramatic improvements through treatment.